CONCLUSION

     There will always be situations in which public affairs must assume its gatekeeping role in releasing information to the media about accidents, incidents, or operations.  PA must effectively use Uncertainty Reduction Theory to facilitate the role of the military educating itself about media operations and vice versa to establish pre-existing relationships, which will pay dividends during a crisis.  PA can use agenda setting to focus public opinion towards the military spin of any story.  This plan requires the release of good or bad information.  Unfavorable news items create opportunities to state how the situation can be prevented or improved upon in the future.
     Public affairs must make a commitment to learn the needs of civilian media before the next major  crisis.  PA must develop a close working relationship with the media before a problem develops.  This relationship reduces uncertainty on both sides and allows for more objective reporting. Wildermuth (1992) suggests that more research on this “education solution” may be necessary but concedes that only time will tell.
     Like the Maginot Line of World War II, the military public affairs gatekeeping role can be penetrated.  PA professionals must understand the media’s mission in order to respond appropriately.  Proper use of agenda setting techniques, Uncertainty Reduction Theory, and Fayol’s bridge can help preserve the military’s public image and maintain control of the flow of information through their gates.